Electronic Beats hit the Slovakian capital of Bratislava with Hurts, James Pants, Agoria, and Youthkills for a sold-out night of diverse new sounds. The EB team reports from on site. Title image of Hurts by Martina Mlcuchova.
On the outskirts of the Bratislava, long after the baroque architecture has faded into industrial wasteland, squats the Refinery Gallery. As you’d expect from an ex-oil refinery, the post-industrial heft of the venue demands performers to upscale their sound lest they get lost amidst the space. London band Youthkills are more than happy to oblige with a set of reference-heavy radio rock. If you can detect some ’80s DNA in their sound, well, that isn’t just metaphorical—they’re the respected progeny of Duran Duran’s two Taylors. They look like Jesus and Mary Chain with undercuts—you can practically hear the creak of leather jacket as James Taylor lopes towards a guitar pedal, well, if there wasn’t a seismic updraft of ringing U2 guitars and keening choruses.
Youthkills, by Martina Mlcuchova
While the crowd seemed slightly skeptical of James Pants’ one-man percussion/vocals/production/DJ band set up at first, it didn’t take him long to win them over. What started as a half-full room looking to the stage questioningly ended with a full floor and hands in the air. His combination of an amazing selection, full of groovy obscurities, plus his own productions topped by a fervent, but endearing stage presence meant that his set travelled from boogie to bhangra beats, through all the best twists in between, but always brought the party.
James Pants, by Stanislava Karellova
There was always a sense of fake it until you make it with Hurts, who Youthkills have no doubt studied as a textbook case of narrative pop music the right (wrong?) side of epic.Theo’s theatrical flourishes of the mike stand, the odd well-timed hair sweep, you get a sense it was practiced the bathroom mirror long before they ever had a paying audience. Now, by God, they’ve made it. Stalking the lip of the stage, dressed in his uniform black jacket and jackboots, Theo picks out female audience members to grace with a wink, a smile, a hand outstretched, before falling to his knees in time with the scree of a particularly toothy synth. Indeed the rougher grain of tracks like “Exile” and “The Road” offer timely reprieve from the brazen emoting: Now Adam Anderson looking as comfortable behind a guitar as the Modernist black veneered piano, whereas “Sandman”’s verses break with the fulsome, organic sound altogether to experiment with Timbaland style production. If this unchecked rawk posturing feels anachronistic—particularly coming from a band whose slickly produced pop has as much in common with Take That as Depeche Mode—that’s kind of the point. The crowd are wildly enthusiastic, holding up banners of thinly disguised innuendo (“dessert?”) leading one to surmise that we still need to elect rock star avatars to express our primitive, uncouth desires, can’t be repressed or sublimated, and we’re gifted a tableau of an excellently dressed man, his pomaded hair stylishly mussed, making a pantomime of smashing a mic stand.
Agoria, by Stanislava Karellova
Or perhaps we’d all be a little less uptight if life was one long Agoria set. For tonight’s show he presents Forms, a driving house and techno set accompanied by visuals triggered on the fly. The visual vernacular is familiar, time-lapse footage of crowds, CAD-abstraction, the odd visual pun (a guy working in a office cubicle while dropping “Work” by Masters at Work). Of course, this being Agoria, it’s the kind of set that should be peak-time, and even at 3am the remaining people on the dancefloor look unwilling to relinquish their position. Don’t worry Bratislava, we’ll be back.~
photo by by Stanislava Karellova
As anticipation builds for Electronic Beats’ 2013 festival series—our Prague leg headlined bhttps://soundcloud.com/informationhurtsy Lana Del Rey has already sold out—we figured it’s time to up the ante a little bit more.
We’re super excited to announce that the line-up for our second event, taking place in Slovakian capital of Bratislava on April 19th, features pop noir romanticists Hurts, Stones Throw stalwart James Pants, acclaimed French techno producer Agoria and up and coming London synth duo Youthkills.
That’s one stylish bill right there.
The gig takes place at the Refinery Gallery. This is not the first time the EB Festival has touched down in Bratislava, we paid a visit to the city last year and in 2011—there’s video evidence of what went down last time, just head to the bottom of the page. Consider your appetite whetted.
Even though the life of independent labels is pretty fragile at the moment – and this is even more evident in Eastern Europe – there are several examples that demonstrate that with an ample dose of enthusiasm and perseverance, these imprints can continue to release records even after ten or more years. The Slovak label Deadred is case in point. Established at the dawn of the millennium, Deadred was set up by designer and bass player Martin Turzík and singer, guitar player and former medical student Richard Imrich.
The oldest DIY record label in Slovakia championed and nurtured the independent music scene in the country over the noughties with a diverse roster oscillating between beats, guitars and electronics. In 2008, a new phase in Deadred’s history was inaugurated after merging with the Prague-based label Starcastic. Deadred commemorates its ten years with a compilation featuring ten recent tracks by ten artists affiliated with this imprint, and among others, includes Foolk’s Oak Tree which has recently received radio airplay courtesy of the mighty Mary Ann Hobbs or the recent winner of the Apollo music awards Bonus (read our interview with him here).
Electronic Beats has just returned to Slovakia’s capital for the third time, and it turned out better than ever! In the past two instalments the walls of Bratislava’s clubs were shaken by rave legends Underworld and Prodigy – and the nightlife hungry masses rejoiced. This time, Bratislava was treated to concerts by Lamb, Apparat Band and WhoMadeWho, and a truly smashing afterparty following the live shows. And yes, the former YMCA building that houses the clubs MMC, Randal and Hopkirk in Bratislava’s beautiful Old Town district served late night musical appetites until the early hours.
Slovak newcomers Dynamo Team, who’s summer hit ‘Roll the Dynamo’ received much praise as well as rotation on radio FM4, opened up the night – and did so elegantly. Next up were Danish dance-punks WhoMadeWho, they hit MMC with their charismatic performance. And although they were the second act on the bill, they had everybody stomping, jumping and nodding their heads to the beat. By the end of their set, everybody came to realize just how much Danish disco rocks!
Shortly after Sascha Ring took the stage with his Apparat Band project with a set-list drew heavily from the latest Apparat album ‘The Devil’s Walk’, which was released just two weeks prior to the show and received rave reviews from both critics and fans. Fans also got to hear a new version of ‘Arcadia’, from the 2007 album ‘Walls’, as well as the pivotal and ecstatic centrepiece of the set – a shoegazey post-rock re-work of ‘Rusty Nails’, that Apparat wrote together with his good friends, the mad scientists from Modeselektor.
Manchester based duo Lamb returned to Slovakia shortly after their latest but very successful show at the Bažant Pohoda festival this summer. This time however, Andy Barlow’s and Lou Rhodes‘ tender vocals had a chance to resonate in a more intimate club setting. Lamb seem to have a loyal following here in Slovakia, and given that energy translates better in smaller venues, the connection between the band and their Slovak fans was truly unique even more evident.
The only thing that’s left for us is to thank YOU the people, for making this a night to remember – as we’re already looking forward to the next installment that has been already confirmed by T-Mobile. Follow Electronic Beats Slovakia on Facebook and Twitter to stay posted on festival news as well as more pictures and live videos from last night.